Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) has ruled that child care leave (CCL) was the right of every working woman, while directing the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, to reinstate an employee who was sacked for proceeding on CCL.
Anu Sharma, a mother of two, who worked as senior laboratory technician, department of advanced paediatric centre, PGIMER, was sacked for failing to join the institute after her plea for extension of CCL was turned down by the institute.
Directing PGIMER to reinstate Anu, the tribunal had held that every woman had the natural right to take care of her children and keeping in view this, child care leave was introduced as a matter of right for the working women.
The tribunal in its order said, "CCL of two years has been allowed to women employees as a welfare measure. Staff shortage can always be addressed through short-term appointments and the institute such as the PGIMER has the autonomy/authority to make such arrangements."
Providing relief to Anu, the tribunal observed, "The PGIMER has not stated that the grounds on which the applicant was applying for CCL were not genuine. Apparently, the leave was refused only on account of perceived shortage of staff. The PGIMER authorities appear to have taken an unduly harsh view in the matter."
The tribunal held, "Memo of charges dated September 21, 2011 is quashed. The PGIMER is directed to reinstate the applicant in service and treat the period for which she was not on duty as leave of the kind due/leave without pay as may be appropriate within 45 days."
Anu had served the PGIMER from May 1997 to November 2012 in the capacity of junior/senior lab technician.
On her request, child care leave for six months from July 12, 2010 to January 7, 2011 was sanctioned. Before her leave came to an end, she applied for extension of the leave from January 10, 2011 to July 8, 2012 to complete two years' of child care leave as originally applied for, but it was refused.
At the time of applying for the leave, Anu had said that she had a daughter aged 8 and a 13-year-old son, who was medically unfit.
The request of the applicant for extension of child care leave as well as for leave without pay was rejected. Since the applicant did not join duty, the PGIMER issued memo of charges on September 21, 2011, for lack of devotion to her duty.
After issuance of memo she resumed duty and worked till May 14, 2012. Thereafter, she remained on sanctioned leave from May 2012 to August 2012 and further applied for CCL from September 17, 2012. Finally, her services were terminated through an order on April 24, 2014.
Penalty on her does not merit reconsideration: PGIMER
Contesting the claims of Anu, the PGIMER said since Anu had remained willfully absent from duty, thus penalty imposed upon her does not merit reconsideration.
They said that the head, department of paediatrics, forwarded the application with the remarks that further leave cannot be granted due to shortage of staff or a replacement may be provided. They said that the competent authority considered and declined the request of the applicant seeking extension of CCL and she was categorically told that CCL had been rejected and she was being treated as 'willfully absent from duty' since January 8, 2011.
She was directed to resume duty immediately, failing which disciplinary action would be initiated.